This Game five post-game summary won’t include any season summary, just tonight’s game.
With everything on the line the Calgary Flames flew into Anaheim for Game 5 of the best of seven series. The subtext for every away game in Anaheim is how long it’s been since the Flames have won, they haven’t won for as long as Johnny Goudreau has been alive (at least that’s what it seems.) Calgary looked to defy history by sticking to their game plan and hoping for some timely bounces. They did get some of the that for the first 30 minutes, but this 60 minute game had a little bit of everything, including some of the greatest acting in NHL postseason history.
The Flames would get on the board first and actually take the lead in the first period. Jiri Hudler scoring his first point of this series. He’s clearly injured, along with Sean Monahan, I’m as defined the net exposing Andersen’s low blocker side weakness.
Calgary seemed to hold some momentum during the first. But unfortunately for fans on TV (not the fans in Anahiem, that is literally the quietest rink in the league) the referees started to get involved. Before the game there must have been a clear directive from the NHL head office, perhaps in Gary Bettman himself, shutting down playoff style hockey in favour for penalty parades only seen in preseason. The effect of the game was lasting, and I gave Anaheim the Ashley needed to regain momentum and finer game. Anytime the referees get involved to the point you notice them they are doing a poor job. In case you need a reminder, Brad Watson was head ref, and he was the goon called out last week in Montreal. Rather than sit him, the NHL sent him out West. What a joke.
Nonetheless, it’s a shame that in this series the Flames couldn’t keep their 5v5 play going, instead they were called for chintzy penalties that turned Game 5 of the Second Round into a farce. (I’m looking at you Joe Colborne. Nice progression, but wow, you spent more time in the box than on the ice in the last two games.)
Calgary started to lose their edge in the second period, mostly due to special teams play. The parade to the box gave Anaheim enough chances to eventually tie. Hard to think that the Flames could comeback given how little offence they were putting up, but lo and behold, as fans are used to by now, Gaudreau stepped off, and off of a lucky bounce, put the Flames right back on top.
Late in the second period saw what was perhaps the most dubious and horrid embellishment in all NHL postseason history. Corey Perry threw himself onto the ice as if he had been shot after taking a Matt Stajan hip to the leg. This coming from a guy who continually tries to injure other players on the ice. After he didn’t get a penalty call, he pretended to go to the dressing room, and came back in the third perfectly fine. Maybe he twisted his knee to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it looks absolutely terrible for the entire league and the organization that players like that try to scam the system.
A disgusting easy call at the very end of the second period gave the Ducks a powerplay to start the third where they scored the tying goal. The lightest of taps on Kesler’s hands was called not because it was a penalty, but because Kesler whimpered to the refs and they bought his scam. After what was the softest penalty in this series, the referees inexplicably put away their whistles and let the game play out. Compare the Backlund slash versus the ignored trips in the final minutes, and wow, the game was in the very least poorly officiated and that’s putting it midly.
Officiating no doubt changed the complexion of this game. Whether it caused the loss, we can never tell, but it affected gameplay for 60 minutes.
With Anaheim sensing victory over the wounded Flames, they picked up their 5V5 play and controlled the rest of game. Corsi stats nuts will now say how right they were all season long and how the stats played into the Flames loss. They’re right about the possession, it was very bad, but they were wrong since puck drop in October about these Calgary Flames.
For the second time in this postseason Calgary went to overtime. Anaheim jumped right out of the gate whereas Calgary spent no time in the offensive zone. The Ducks controlled play for a full two minutes with Ramo standing tall deflecting shot after shot. The onslaught was too much, Corey Perry, after recovering from a broken leg, interfered with Ramo, and poked home the frozen puck for the series winner.
Corey Perry is a champion in the eyes of all uninformed Californian hockey fan, the fairweather type who only go to games if they win tickets, and has effectively lost all respect from fans around league. Having ex-Canucks Ryan Kesler, another cry-baby, on your team, doesn’t help. Anaheim is probably the only place both could play without being ridiculed by the hockey market or fans.
As of the Flames, we’ll do a post season review tomorrow. I don’t think anybody in their right mind thought the Flames were going to take this series. But in our hearts we cheered them on until the last buzzer sounded. This team left everything on the ice, that much we can believe in cause we saw it happen. They ran into an elite team and the league’s worst official. All that in year two of a rebuild. Imagine where they will be next year? It’s exciting to be a Flames fan, and although big game went in favor of the opponents, with the help of some soft officiating, the team has nothing to be ashamed of.
Now for some work in prep for the off-season, the trip home from Sunny California, and preparations for next season. This game didn’t go the way it could’ve gone, they had chances, but also squandered opportunities. The exciting part of the NHL playoffs is that despite all of the shortcomings, you still have a chance, and we did up until now. Can’t say any true fan would be disappointed with the result tonight because it reflects the result of the entire season and that has been a success.